The Sacrament of Waiting
(by Fr. James Donelan, S.J.)
The English poet John Milton wrote that those who serve only also stand and wait. I think I would go further and say that those who wait render the highest form of service. Waiting requires more discipline, more self-control and emotional maturity, more unshakable faith in our cause, more unwavering hope in the future, more sustaining love in our hearts that all the greatest deeds of derring-do go by the name of action.
Waiting is a mystery - a natural sacrament of life - there is a meaning hidden in all the times we have to wait. It must be an important mystery because there is so much waiting in our lives. Everyday is filled with those little moments of waiting (testing our patience and our nerves, schooling us in self-control). We wait for meals to be served, for a letter to arrive, for a friend to call or show up for a date. We wait in line at cinemas and theaters, concerts and circuses. Our airline terminals, railway stations and bus depots are great temples of waiting filled with men and women who wait in joy for the arrival of a loved one - or wait in sadness to say goodbye and give the last wave of hand. We wait for springs to come - or autumn - for the rains to begin and stop. And we wait for ourselves to grow from childhood to maturity. We wait for those inner voices that tell us when we are ready for the next stop.
We wait for graduation, for our first job, our first promotion. We wait for success and recognition. We wait to grow up - to reach the stage where we make our own decisions. We cannot remove this waiting from our lives. It is a part of the tapestry of living - the fabric in which the threads are woven to tell the story of our lives. Yet current philosophies would have us forget the need to wait. "Grab all the gusto you can get!" So reads one of America's greatest beer ads - get it now! Instant pleasure, instant transcendence. Do not wait for anything. Life is...